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Mostly Main: Supporting local restaurants and spreading goodwill in Ellicott City

George Goeller stands in front of the Phoenix Emporium in historic Ellicott City.
George Goeller stands in front of the Phoenix Emporium in historic Ellicott City. (HANDOUT)

This is a column about neighbors, for neighbors, concentrating “Mostly” on historic Ellicott City and the suburbs. We can’t gather right now, but I know we are interested in how everyone else is coping. So, please email me what you are up to and send photos of your flower garden, your kids playing or whatever else you would like to share. I will be happy to pass your news along.

First, Main Street news: The Phoenix Emporium has officially closed its doors, the last of the 10 buildings to be purchased by the county for flood mitigation purposes. My friend George Goeller owned the building for 42 years, coming out to Ellicott City after a stint as owner of the Horse You Came in On saloon in Fells Point. George and his wife, Vickie, made the Phoenix a vibrant, fun-filled venue, as welcoming to young children at lunch time as it was to imbibers of adult beverages in the evening.

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They had T-shirts printed with their motto, “Warm beer, lousy food, bad service — since 1979.” A few years ago, George and Vickie sold the business to Mark Hemmis, who has now moved the restaurant up Main Street and blended it with the Ellicott Mills Brewing Company to become the Phoenix Upper Main. I am sure the traditions will continue, and I can’t wait to go back.

The internet is wonderful for being able to keep up with people during these trying times. I can watch my grandson Henry bounce on his new trampoline in Brooklyn, take notes while Angie Tersiguel makes cocktails on Instagram and laugh while my favorite waiter, Ryan at Bare Bones, shows how he pours wine out of a cocktail shaker on Facebook.

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Ryan doesn’t know my name when he serves us in the restaurant, he just knows that we don’t take straws in our iced tea and automatically brings straw-less tea to my husband, Tom, and I without our having to ask. These days, he’s filling our occasional takeout orders. Bare Bones has always had a robust takeout business so it really knows how to handle orders very efficiently. Its special chicken salad travels very well and is usually enough for two lunches. The chicken is still warm when we get it home.

We have also had great success with White Oak Tavern and, before they closed completely, Shannon’s and Kelsey’s. White Oak’s special burger is outstanding, and its curbside service was so fast that the burger was still perfect when we got it home.

I am looking forward to ordering the River House pizza to cook at home. What a great idea. Its impeccable ingredients freshly cooked in my own oven. I see that Mission BBQ has sent out a coupon for a free dessert and Glory Days has a $5 off coupon as well. We will continue to support the restaurants that are open and of course can’t wait to actually sit in one again.

I also learned from Tom Hanks’ son Colin online how to make a face mask out of a scarf — something I would never have thought I’d want or needed to do. I am enjoying the discipline of taking online cooking classes at Milk Street, pop quizzes and all.

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Our niece Jordan Cassella lives near Sherwood Gardens in Baltimore. We have visited the beautiful site many times, but of course can’t make the trip this year. So, it’s lovely that her husband Kevin has been visiting the garden every day and photographing the progress of a beautiful patch of yellow tulips as they begin to bloom.

My neighbor Andie Martin tells me that she is having fun flying kites with her daughters, Katie and Julia. I love to watch the little girls running around their backyard from my safe distance on my porch. Another neighbor, Jackie Troppman, regrets that her granddaughter is missing out on the closure of senior year of high school. A relative by marriage, Courtenay Diederich, is dismayed that her son’s graduation from Notre Dame University in Indiana is going to be virtual. He deserves some pomp and circumstance after four years of hard work. Claire Fulton has been staying up nights completing a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

I really miss the library. We got a bunch of books to read before it closed, and I plan to read my husband’s when I’m done mine, even though we have very different tastes in reading material. I was glad to be reminded of what the library still offers when they sent us an email, as Friends of the Library, that listed all of the programs, classes, online books and other materials that are still available to be enjoyed.

That doesn’t stop me from wishing I could still go to the Miller Branch once a month to enjoy its movie presentations. I hope they are back in action in May because I requested a viewing of “Yesterday” and it’s on the schedule. I am also a big fan of reserving books and have a few cookbooks on my list that I am looking forward to getting. Grilling season is almost here and I don’t know if propane is available. Those burgers and dogs just might have to wait.

I look forward to hearing from you. Speaking of hearing from you, have you seen that neighborhoods throughout New York City have been sending up cheers and banging on pots and pans at 7 p.m. every night in support all of the personnel working so very hard in hospitals, fire stations and police departments? It would be cool if we could do something like that for our local heroes. One of my Brooklyn friends videoed the event one evening on her street and the effect was moving and life affirming.

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